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Sales Leaders Agree: Soft Skills Enabled by Technology is the Future of Sales

It has to be said, no prospect worth getting to is lonely, bored, or looking for a new friend. Everyone is busy, stressed and time-poor.

Ten to 20 years ago it was really helpful talking to a salesperson because they could educate you on a product. Now, buyers are happy with an app or a website and only speak to a salesperson when a product or brand is on their shortlist. From their perspective, they already know everything about your product — they just need to know why they should go with you and not your competition. 

As the buying process and customer demands change, so must the way we sell. 

To master the art of sales in this new normal you have to be incredibly good at breaking into a prospect’s world. You have to make the conversation about them and not your product. You need a point of view on how they can improve their business results and you have to talk the language of leaders to avoid getting delegated away. 

At World Tour Sydney Reimagined earlier this year, these were the very sales skills I discussed with Para Mobility General Manager Sally Farrow and Salesforce Regional Vice President Sales Nicole Woodley during the Sales Trailblazer Panel: Transform the way you sell. Despite all the disruption the world has gone through since March, a lot of our discussion still runs true today. Here’s what sales reps and leaders need to know about the future of sales.

Successful selling starts with the right team

We all agreed: buyers expectations have never been higher.

“Newer brands have given us an experience that is effortless,” said Nicole. “It surprises us. It delights us. And we as consumers now expect that across every one of our brand interactions.”

And this expectation has only grown following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. So how can sellers manage these customer expectations? Sally believes it starts with team culture and having the right people in the job.  

“If we don’t have the people who are highly customer focused – and able to listen deeply to our customer needs – it’s really hard for our sales team to get the right results,” said Sally. 

One client of mine, who is also a Salesforce customer, saw a 27% growth in sales when they made a decision to hire salespeople who were the right culture fit for their company over a 12 month period.

Salespeople need to leverage data insights

There’s no escaping this one – data insights is how sales teams will provide value to their customers and business.

“If you’re able to apply smart automation and AI to delve into your data, then salespeople can use those insights to predict pipeline as well as identify gaps in focus areas,” says Nicole. 

For Sally and her sales team, embracing new technology means no more “meerkat-ing”. 

“We don’t have to say, ‘Excuse me, can you tell me about X, Y and Z customer or what they need to know’,” explained Sally. “Now, because we have so much real-time data, we can be incredibly responsive.” 

With data visibility, Para Mobility can quickly understand the types of customers they have, where they’re from and what product they’re looking for. “If we don’t have those insights how are we going to better serve our customers?” asked Sally. 

Nicole agreed: “Technology allows us to be smarter. Don’t hide away from it – lean into it and understand where those insights can help you engage in a smarter and more meaningful way.”

The blending of technology and human

With all its advantages and insights, there are still things technology will never be able to do: develop an emotional connection and be creative. 

For salespeople, they need to do these things in a way which helps their client build a business case for change while navigating internal politics. Think Tony Stark meets Jarvis.

“Those who are able to change, adapt and augment their capabilities by using technologies, are the sellers who will succeed,” said Nicole. “But that technology piece can’t be done without human traits – like customer advocacy and authenticity. It’s augmenting all of those elements of EQ, IQ and TQ together.”

And one of those EQ traits is empathy — a trait that has become even more valued since the COVID-19 pandemic. As Sally mentioned customers can tell if you actually care about them — even if you’re on the other end of the phone. 

“We want sellers who create real connections with our customers and have shared experiences,” said Sally. “This thinking has really been driving our deep customer experience and customer focus of our internal teams.”    

The future of selling is not about replacing people with technology — it’s about making them much more productive and strategic.  

Want more insights from sales experts and leaders? Download our 50 Pro Sales Tips for 2020 ebook and learn how to become a seller for this decade.

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